Rory McIlroy on players putting their Ryder Cup careers at risk by joining LIV Golf: “I would like to think the Ryder Cup means as much to them as it does to me. Maybe it does. But knowing what the consequences could be, I just could never make that decision”
Last Updated: 26/10/22 11:27am
World No 1 Rory McIlroy says he felt “betrayal” from his Ryder Cup team-mates joining LIV Golf and believes the feud between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed circuit is “out of control”.
Five of Europe’s team beaten by a record-breaking margin at Whistling Straits last September have already joined LIV Golf, including record points scorer Sergio Garcia and Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.
Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger also made the switch, along with former Ryder Cup winners Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, while Henrik Stenson was stripped of Team Europe captaincy for the 2023 contest after joining the breakaway tour.
LIV Golf members are still currently able to compete on the DP World Tour but it remains unclear whether they will be allowed to feature at Marco Simone GC next September, with McIlroy disappointed by the decision made by many to put their Ryder Cup careers at risk.
“I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way,” McIlroy told The Guardian. “It’s an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things.
“Them knowing that what they are about to do is going to jeopardise them from being a part of that ever again? There was a great opportunity for GMac (McDowell) to maybe be the captain at Adare (Manor) in 2027. Most of Sergio’s legacy is Ryder Cup-based, same with Poulter, Westwood.
“I would like to think the Ryder Cup means as much to them as it does to me. Maybe it does. But knowing what the consequences could be, I just could never make that decision. OK, it might not be 100 per cent certain but that it could be the outcome? It just isn’t a move I would be willing to make. I thought they felt the same way.
“I feel like the place where they have been able to build their legacy and build their brand, they have just left behind. You could make the same argument about me, I started in Europe and went to America but I have always been supportive of the traditional system.
“If people felt so aggrieved about some things, I’d rather be trying to make those changes from inside the walls than trying to go outside and be disruptive.”
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McIlroy has regularly spoken out in support of golf’s traditional tours and rejected ahead of his CJ Cup title defence claims from six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who suggested LIV Golf was on the way up while the PGA Tour was on the way down.
Champion Golfer of the Year Cameron Smith joined fellow major winners Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson in signing up to LIV Golf, although McIlroy continues to offer his commitment to the PGA Tour.
“My life is not going to change whether people go to LIV or they don’t,” McIlroy added. “But I care. It mightn’t change our life but it will the guys grinding their asses off to get a tour card.
“There’s a lot of people in the game who don’t have the voice or the platform I have so I am trying to speak up for them a little, too.
“This ‘us versus them’ thing has gotten way out of control already. If the two entities keep doubling down in both directions, it is only going to become irreparable. We are going to have a fractured sport for a long time. That is no good for anyone.”
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